Last week 12 British start-up businesses pitched their products to buyers at John Lewis in a bid to have them featured in the store’s 150th anniversary celebrations in 2014.
The start-ups included snowshoes made in Scotland, children’s tableware made in Coventry, chopping boards in the shape of British counties made by a collective at the University of Hull, British-made maternity wear and a high-end fashion brand which manufactures its limited edition designs in Wales.
Now in its second year, PitchUp, as the competition is called, gives start-up businesses the chance to present their products to the retail giant and win the chance to have their products sold by the store.
This year’s competition is particularly special, as the goods will become part of the store’s celebrations next year. Last year, 400 start-ups competed for 12 places to pitch to John Lewis buyers.
Christine Kasoulis, John Lewis Partnership’s director of brand development, said that PitchUp is a tremendously exciting opportunity for the retailer to discover unique products and innovative designs for its customers, while at the same time supporting talented start-ups. She added that the firm wants to share its expertise and help these entrepreneurs realise their aspirations through mentoring.
The competition is being organised by StartUp Britain, a national enterprise campaign founded by eight UK entrepreneurs. It is privately funded but has the support of government and was launched in March 2011 by the Prime Minister.
StartUp Britain co-founder Emma Jones said that she is seeing record numbers of businesses starting up, with more and more people starting out small and online.
She added that this competition gives start-ups a great opportunity to find out what it’s like to work with British institutions like John Lewis and set them on their journey to become retail stars of the future.